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LePage unveils $2 billion three-year work plan for Maine transportation projects

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Gov. Paul LePage arrives at a Youth for LePage Coalition event at the University of Maine in Orono Monday, Oct. 13, 2014.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Those who travel Maine’s roads, rails and ports will benefit from about $470 million worth of improvements and maintenance this year, according to a new three-year work plan unveiled by Gov. Paul LePage’s administration on Monday afternoon.

That’s 523 capital improvement projects this year throughout the state, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.

LePage and Department of Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt revealed the work plan Monday at a news conference at a Department of Transportation maintenance facility in Augusta. The work plan also was posted on the Department of Transportation website.

“This is probably one of the biggest years we’ve had in 10 years,” said Bernhardt.

The total three-year plan is valued at about $2 billion and includes more than 1,900 projects for 2015, 2016 and 2017. However, only the projects listed for 2015 are firmly funded and scheduled, while projects planned for the latter two years are still subject to change depending on funding, prices, permitting and weather.

The work plan for 2015 includes:

— Replacement or rehabilitation of 47 bridges, with an estimated value of nearly $95 million.

— Construction or reconstruction of 108 miles of state roads for $122 million.

— New pavement on 252 miles of state roads, worth about $86 million, plus less exhaustive surface-level paving projects on 600 additional miles of roads, at a cost of about $28 million.

— Safety improvement projects at 76 locations throughout the state, for $30 million.

— Capital projects for ports, rail, airports and other transit facilities at 94 locations, worth about $72 million.

Among those nonhighway projects is a $5.2 million project planned for Bangor International Airport that includes new drainage systems, a new terminal connector, the construction of one taxiway and the rehabilitation of another.

Other landmark projects scheduled over the full three years include an $11.1 million replacement of the Androscoggin River Bridge between the towns of Peru and Mexico, $4 million worth of improvements to Portland’s International Marine Terminal, $5.5 million for industrial rail access statewide, and a $3 million dredging project in the commercial channel of port in Searsport.

LePage stressed that the investment in Maine’s infrastructure would not only create good-paying construction jobs in the short term but make the state more competitive in the long run.

“It’s imperative if we’re going to move Maine from poverty to prosperity that we have good infrastructure,” he said.

The three-year work plan anticipates a broad range of funding from state and federal sources, as well as some borrowing. The $1.4 billion budget for capital projects in 2014 and 2015 was funded with 42 percent from the state highway fund, 34 percent from federal sources and 13 percent from bonds, with the remainder paid for from other sources.

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.



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